Alex Ewen is a couple of things – a producer and one of the owners of the famed bar, Neir's Tavern in Woodhaven. Ewen, along with David Eng, Loycent Gordon and Andy Bigan own the bar that once set the stage for acts like Mae West and is now restored to resemble what it used to be in its heyday – a local neighborhood watering hole where everyone is sure to know your name.
Two years ago, Ewen came on board at Neir's Tavern, and him, along with the rest of the crew harbor an artistic vision for the place surrounded by houses just off Jamaica Avenue on 78th Street.
The fact that the tavern is surrounded by houses even though it's near a busy shopping strip is something Ewen says saved it since its beginnings in 1820.
“By virtue of not being on Jamaica Avenue is probably one of the main reasons why it remained preserved,” he said.
Ewen and his crew are working to keep the same feel of the tavern, but with a new twist. Ewen is a producer and works with Eng, building up and coming talent. His company is called Renegade Nation.
The bar is a labor of love. While not managing musical acts, he sees that it is a place where local talent can find a spotlight. Neir's hosts jam sessions every Saturday that Ewen notes all bands can attend as long as they call and book before.
“We really love music. We're passionate about it and we love helping new talent,” he said. “Right now, you have to have a million fans for anybody to even talk to you.”
Although Ewen lives in Manhattan, Woodhaven is a neighborhood that has things he finds invaluable. “I didn't know where Woodhaven was before, but it's a cool neighborhood, very mixed, very diverse, very interesting and we want to have that diversity in our place,” he said.
Neir's tavern recently won business of the year and was awarded a proclamation by the mayor and is recognized by local elected leaders. “We're here if there's a cause or an issue related to the neighborhood, and we encourage people to make this place a place where they can be showcased, where talent can meet other talent,” he said. “You have to start somewhere, Mae West started here so it can't be that bad.”